Category Archives: Cooking

Delicious Homemade Pad Thai

I am trying to work through my pantry. This evening I called out ingredients to my family and when I got to “rice stick noodle” my husband suggested Pad Thai. In my experience, Pad Thai at home is this sticky, icky mess that doesn’t remotely resemble the Thai restaurant staple.

I decided to give it another go. I started researching recipes on Pinterest. One claimed to taste just like the real thing but contained ketchup. Another suggested peanut butter, and I finally decided on the most un-Pinteresty looking recipe from SouvenirFinder.com. Heck yes I want my pad Thai to taste like Bankok street food!

The first go around I didn’t have tamarind concentrate. So I improvised and used peanut butter instead. I was delightfully surprised. I didn’t end up with a sticky ball of noodles that was overly sweet. It was a balanced dish with lots of flavor. Second time around my father gifted me a jar of tamarind concentrate and the recipe was even better – I even had time to snap some photos before inhaling it.

Delicious and easy homemade Pad Thai | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Simple homemade pad Thai

Serves 3-4

For the sauce:

  • 2 oz. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (sub peanut butter)
  • squeeze of lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (or more to taste)

For the stir fry:

  • 8 ounces Thai rice stick noodles
  • 1/2 pound chicken breasts, sliced thin (you could add tofu and shrimp as well, just don’t marinate them)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced very thin
  • 3 baby bell peppers, sliced very thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • cilantro, for serving
  • lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

Fill a large bowl with very hot water and soak the noodles for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside. They should be pliable but not soft – way less than al dente. Don’t worry, they soften up when you put them in the pan later.

Meanwhile, mix together the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and marinate until noodles are done.

Remove chicken, squeezing out sauce, and pat dry with paper towels. You’ll be using the remaining marinade as the sauce so if you’re worried about salmonella, just heat the sauce in a small pan until boiling and set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan with 1 tablespoon oil until smoking. Add half the chicken and leave undisturbed for a couple of minutes until nice and browned. Flip chicken pieces and brown on the other side. Set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Add another tablespoon of oil. When pan is hot again, add the onions and baby bell peppers. Cook until softened, about three minutes, scraping up any browned bits as you stir. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the noodles and chicken stock and stir frequently until noodles are softened, about three minutes.

Push noodles to the side of the pan and add the egg. Let it set and stir until firm and browned. Add the green onions, sauce, chicken and sprouts and mix thoroughly. There might be some sticking to the bottom of the pan, but that’s ok, it’ll still be super yummy.

Serve in bowls and top with a good squeeze of lime, some chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro.

Delicious and easy homemade Pad Thai | a recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Creamy Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Here’s a quick, delicious soup that uses pantry staples so you don’t have you leave your house when it’s -3 F outside, which is exactly where I found myself last night. I added red bell pepper as an afterthought and it created an extra tanginess to the soup.

Toss in some chopped baby spinach right at the end for a nutritious bump.

Creamy tomato and red pepper soup | A recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Creamy Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • One onion, chopped
  • 4 baby red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • one 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chopped baby spinach (optional)
  • cream, for serving

Directions:

Coat a dutch oven or soup pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about a minute.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir so everything is well coated. Cook for about a minute. Add the stock, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and oregano and give it a good stir. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat to low. The soup should begin to thicken nicely. If it’s too thick, add more stock.

Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning. Use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth.

Five minutes before serving, add the spinach, if desired.

Spoon into bowls and stir in a dollop of cream just before serving.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Soup

Everyone loves ordering spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer, amirite? Well here’s a soup version that’s every bit as flavorful, probably nearly as fattening and downright delicious.

I checked out from the library “The Keto Reset Instant Pot Cookbook” for funsies and it’s packed with super tasty recipes. I tweaked this one a little to boost the flavor by adding onions and deglazing with white wine.

I’ve never used the sauté function on my Instant Pot, out of fear mostly, but I tried it out and it works great! You could definitely make this recipe on the stove top, but it was pretty darn quick in the pressure cooker.

This creamy soup is packed with flavor, and hey – spinach is good for you so let’s call this a little bit healthy too.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Soup | A delicious recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com adapted from "The Keto Reset Instant Pot Cookbook" by Mark Sisson

Spinach Artichoke Dip Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano for serving

Directions:

Melt butter in a sauté pan (or use the sauté function on your Instant Pot). Add the onions and mushrooms and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook until all the liquid has come out of the mushrooms, about 10 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and let it bubble away a little for a couple of minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted.

Add contents to the Instant Pot if you haven’t already. Add the artichokes, mustard, sage, thyme, granulated garlic, salt and pepper and stir till everything is well coated.

Pour in the broth and water. Place cover on the Instant Pot. Make sure the release valve is set on “sealing” and pressure cook on any food setting (I used poultry) for 7 minutes.

Let the Instant Pot sit for 5 minutes, then carefully release the steam release valve.

Stir in the thawed and drained spinach and let the soup warm it for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cream.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup slightly, if you’d like. This made it more appetizing because I didn’t have odd chunks of mushroom and spinach in every bite.

Serve in bowls topped with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Soup | A delicious recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com adapted from "The Keto Reset Instant Pot Cookbook" by Mark Sisson

Ridiculously Easy Crispy Skin Salmon

Whenever my family sits down to a salmon dinner we always have the same debate: do you eat the crispy, burnt salmon skin or does it go to the side of the plate with the stray bones?

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com

My mother is a member of Club No Salmon Skin, which works out in my favor if I’m quick enough to get to her plate before my dad, who is on the same side as me – salmon skin is super delicious when it’s cooked just right.

So I set out to cook a salmon fillet with the sole purpose of making the skin crispy. It was surprisingly easy! I tried a couple of methods and found most success with these directions from Bon Appétit.

And don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of salmon skin, just peel it away and still enjoy this delicious method of cooking wild Alaska salmon.

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com

How to cook wild Alaska salmon with crispy skin

Ingredients:

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com
Beautiful Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Learn more about this amazing wild Alaska salmon at http://www.bristolbaysockeye.org
  • 1 fillet of Bristol Bay Sockeye salmon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Lemon Dijon sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pepper

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Remove the pin bones from your wild Alaska salmon fillet. A helpful trick is to place a mixing bowl upside-down on the counter and lay the fillet across it. The curvature allows the bones to stick out slightly and makes it easier for needle nose pliers to grasp them.

Slice the fillet into portions about 6-8 ounces each (should make 2-3). Pat them dry on both sides with paper towels and place them skin side up on a plate. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for one hour.

Liberally coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan and turn on the heat to high.

Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium flame and whisk in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard. Bring to a light simmer and add pepper to taste. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cook the salmon skin side down for about 7 minutes. There is no exact science to this as some fillets are thicker than others. The flesh should be opaque around the sides and there should be a ring of raw salmon in the middle of the fillet. Turn off the heat and carefully turn the fillets in the pan with a fish spatula. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes from the residual heat of the skillet. This should be enough to cook the salmon through as most of the cooking happened while the skin was getting crispy.

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com

See how lovely and charred your salmon skin is? It’s ok if it’s a little burnt – that’s the good stuff right there.

Serve your salmon fillets with rice and veggies. Top the rice and veggies with the lemon Dijon sauce (but don’t pour it over the salmon. You don’t want the skin to get soggy!)

After munching down the salmon skin, sop bites of the salmon in the sauce on your plate. It’s so good!

Crispy Skin Salmon | a simple method for cooking wild Alaska salmon from Alaskaknitnat.com

Hungarian Sausage & Pepper Stew

I love when my friend Mat takes over my kitchen and invents dishes. It’s like I get a night off from thinking about dinner and I play sous chef: dicing veggies, finding him utensils or even just lazing on the couch while he does all the work.

Mat has been living the Keto lifestyle for five years so I know whatever he concocts will not only be delicious but also nutritious (or sometimes it’s just cheese; let’s face it, cheese is good.)

Today was rainy and chilly – a perfect evening for a warming stew. We raided my fridge and made the most of a Costco rotisserie chicken.

What Mat came up with was just what we needed on a night like this.

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Sausage, Pepper and Paprika Stew

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 5-7 baby bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • A couple of dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound kielbasa, sliced
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • rice for serving (if Keto isn’t an issue)

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook another few minutes.

Add the paprika, tomato paste, bay leaf, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, and kielbasa. Cover, bring to a boil and turn down heat to remain at a simmer. Add pepper to taste.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Toss in the chicken and simmer another 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream.

Serve over rice and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Hearty Hungarian Stew | A Perfect Fall Meal from Alaskaknitnat.com

Foolproof Home Fries

It’s Saturday morning and I have a bag full of potatoes that are bound to go bad soon (thanks, Costco). I love me some home fries that are soft inside and crispy outside; but really my favorite thing is the crispy bits that develop in the pan as you cook the potatoes.

Here’s a recipe for home fries that will ensure they are cooked through but also perfectly browned.

Perfect home fries | a foolproof recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Perfect Home Fries

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 5 thin-skinned potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Perfect home fries | a foolproof recipe from alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Place potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Carefully drain and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add the potatoes and gently stir them in the pan so they are evenly coated with butter and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook potatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula. It’s ok if some of the potatoes stick – that’s where the crispy bits come from!

Add the smoked paprika and onion powder and turn potatoes till thoroughly coated.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are a deep brown and are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. If browning is occurring too quickly, turn down the heat slightly.

Serve with sour cream or ketchup alongside fried eggs and breakfast sausage.

Swedish Meatballs Stroganoff

The other day my husband requested Swedish meatballs for dinner. Having thought I had this recipe down pat, I proceeded to make meatballs seasoned with nutmeg and allspice, coated in a delicious mushroom sour cream sauce. When my husband sat down for dinner he asked, “Wait, did you make beef stroganoff?” I realized I made a sort of Frankensteined recipe. It was so good I thought I would share it.

Meatballs aren’t photogenic AT ALL, so here’s a meatball photo I took back in 2011. Trust me, this recipe was really really good.

Swedish Meatball Stroganoff

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices good white bread soaked in milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound raw Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoons allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound egg noodles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. After the bread has soaked up the milk, squeeze out any excess liquid and break up the bread with your hands. Place into a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl along with the beef and Italian sausage. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add to the mixing bowl the eggs, allspice and nutmeg. When the onions have cooled, add to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Form into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, set a large salted pot of water on the stove to boil. Now we’ll make the sauce while the meatballs are baking and the noodle water is coming to a boil.

Add the butter to the same pan as you cooked the onions. Set to medium-high heat. Once butter is melted add the mushrooms and sauté until their moisture has evaporated and they start to brown, about 10 minutes. If there’s no more butter in the pan, add another tablespoon. Deglaze the pan with the marsala and let it bubble for a minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute.

Pour in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and let thicken. If it isn’t thick enough, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon flour with 1/2 cup cold chicken stock and pour that in.

Cook the noodles until al dente and drain. Remove meatballs from oven and set aside. Add the peas and sour cream to the sauce just before serving and heat until peas are hot.  Adjust sauce for salt.

Toss in the meatballs and coat them all over with sauce. Serve atop the egg noodles.